November 25, 2012

To DIY or Not to DIY: 5 Ways to Know When It's Time to Call a Professional

We're back! Today I am SO grateful for family, holidays, good food, fun, and extra time to sleep, relax, and start dreaming about Christmas. Do I really have work in the morning?

I hope that your holiday has been wonderful! We went out of town to be with family and before we did, we decided to take on a project that we'd be planning for a while: installing deadbolt locks on our house. What better time to bump up the security of our home than right before we leave? This project is the unfortunate inspiration for this post!

Taking on DIY projects around the house is great. Depending on the project, you can benefit in different ways: you can save tons of money, become more handy, have a more custom home, and you can have a lot of fun!

Still, before taking on any DIY project, especially a critical home repair, it is important to ask yourself: can I really do this myself, or do I need to call a professional?

Aren't you glad that we're here to learn these lessons for you?

Below are five ways that you can figure out if it is time to throw in the DIY towel and call in the pros.

1. Is this a project that I understand?
Let me stress what I feel is a very important point here: just because something comes with instructions, doesn't mean that you should try to do it yourself! When you're dealing with foreign territory, you have to go past the 5-step picture instructions. Ask yourself, do you have sufficient knowledge to take on the project/repair that you are planning? Have you done your homework? Have you watched videos, read articles, ideally talked with someone who has actually done what you are planning to do? The more planning that you do ahead of the time, the more likely you are to succeed at whatever it is you are planning to do.

2. Does this project require special tools that I don't have or want to buy?
Look, this is what happens without proper planning. You start something that you can't finish! In our case, we did not have a drill that was powerful enough to bore through our metal-cased door. Did we know that? Nope. Should we have checked? Yes. Make sure you have the right tools.

If you are not willing to purchase what you need, or at least rent it for the day, you might have a project that you don't want to do yourself. On top of that, you don't want to try to use a tool that you're not comfortable with. 

3. Is this project safe?
Safety is important. It might seem like a pain to put on work gloves or safety goggles or dig out your ear plugs, but the one time that you actually end up needing that protection, you don't want to regret not having it. So if your "safety equipment" looks like this...

...please. Stop and re-evaluate what you are doing. 

**Okay...edited to add: my husband wants the world to know that the glasses (which are my old reading glasses) were MY idea. Better than nothing, right??

Don't follow our example.

4. Is it worth the money savings?
Think about the time, effort, sweat, tears, and emotional strain that you are subjecting yourself to. If you're only going to save 20 bucks on a project that will take you 3 hours to do yourself, think about whether you'd rather have that $20, or spend it and have those 3 hours a professionally done job. Some things are not worth the time and effort.

In addition to that, think about what the potential loss is if you botch it. Which leads me to my last question...

5. What is the worst that could happen if this goes wrong?
If you're building yourself a dog house, the potential consequences are vastly different than if you are trying to re-wire your house or tear up your plumbing. In one case, you could end up with an extremely costly set of repairs, and in the might end up with an ugly house for your dog. Nobody wants either of those things, but before you start a project make sure you think about the real risks vs. benefits involved.

The last point that I want to make about DIY vs. professional jobs: if you start something and you feel overwhelmed, it's okay to stop! If we hadn't thrown in the towel, we might have ended up needing a whole new door, instead of just a lock installed. And the day before we were leaving town! Don't let your pride dig you deeper into a hole. Was it a little embarrassing to let the locksmith in to see our failed DIY attempt? Yeah...for a second. But now I have locks that work and I'm over it.

So, think about it. Have fun. Learn something new, whether you do it yourself or watch a professional. Good luck!

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